China moves ahead with offshore rigs

China’s construction of offshore drilling platforms near the bilateral median line has been progressing despite Japan’s protest against unilateral development of gas fields in the region, The Yomiuri Shimbun has confirmed.

Although the construction was first reported in early July, a government source who saw photos taken from a Yomiuri aircraft Thursday said, “It’s gotten larger since we last saw it.”The Japan-China border line has not yet been defined in the East China Sea.

The discovery of the development project was first announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a press conference on July 3. The government lodged a protest against China, claiming the construction violates a 2008 bilateral agreement stipulating that both nations will not conduct unilateral development of gas and oil fields in the East China Sea. The government has confirmed the building of a new platform by a large marine vessel equipped with a crane, Suga said at the time. Concerning the problem, the Liberal Democratic Party submitted Thursday a proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It was compiled at a joint meeting of the party’s Foreign Affairs and Economy, Trade and Industry divisions and its Research Commission on Resources and Energy, a project team on resource development in the East China Sea. The proposal demands the government to ask China to remove such offshore facilities and not to permit development in disputed areas. “It is what we should naturally do. We may even need to consider the possibility of test drilling by Japanese companies,” Abe reportedly said, referring to a countermeasure.